Recent discoveries of bones believed to be human in forested areas are an unexpected breakthrough that opens up new and credible investigative paths for ramping up the search for missing persons.
In the wake of Andrea Bharatt’s murder, remains of three bodies thought to be human have been found, two in the Heights of Aripo where her body was found, and another in Tabaquite in the Central Range.
These discoveries suggest that criminals have been disposing of bodies with ease by dumping them into forested areas off the beaten track. On the assumption that hired killers and other criminals have their go-to spots for hiding evidence, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) should seize the moment to conduct a massive sweep of these areas. While the police search for Andrea Bharatt was unsuccessful in locating her body which was found by a motorist reportedly scouring the area for scrap iron, the search itself provides a useful template for combining official and voluntary capabilities to create a multi-faceted search team.
Bringing hunters and farmers familiar with T&T’s mountainous terrain into police searches could make a difference, especially if the effort is supported with aerial and other technological resources. While the TTPS is notoriously short on hi-tech equipment, many private individuals and corporations may be willing to support a well-planned initiative with equipment and expertise. Given the heightened public interest spurred by the recent tragic outcomes in the searches for Ashanti Riley and Andrea Bharatt, the private sector and ordinary citizens would be motivated to do whatever they can to bring closure to families while securing justice for victims of crime.
Even the most casual review of social media will show that the public’s single biggest fear is that this moment, when we are more united than ever against crime, will dissipate without achieving fundamental change. People are crying out for change but are unsure of their own power to make it happen.
To the cynics who are willing to accommodate the idea that public opinion holds no sway over governments, we wish to point to the long history of protest action in this country. It was protest action and popular organisation that gave us the vote, rolled back multiple anti-people laws over the years, unclenched the economy from the grip of global multi-national corporations and broke the race barrier in the workplace, among many other advances.
In a democracy, governments ignore public opinion at their peril.
A notable case in this regard occurred in the Senate on Tuesday when Government Minister Clarence Rambharat found himself out of step with both the facts and public opinion on the growing demand for legalising non-lethal weapons in response to the deadly attacks against women, in particular. According to him, the non-lethal pepper spray could be more “more lethal than a firearm in the wrong hands”, leaving the puzzled public to wonder what could be more lethal than a single bullet to the head.
If the most deadly and popular weapon, a gun, can be legally obtained, it remains a mystery why pepper spray which is used primarily by women in self-defence, should be such a source of worry for men like Mr Rambharat.